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Monday, 16 January 2017

Garmin forerunner 735xt - I've replaced my Firbit Surge!

More Gadgets!!I just can't help myself! Just a disclaimer RIGHT NOW, I love all my gadgets but I don't particularly know that much about them. And I'm by no means a fitness freak either!

Soon after doing my half marathon last July, I signed myself up for the Bath Half.. not sure what I was thinking really as the latter part of the year wasn't exactly filled with lots of training!! To begin with my excuse was that I needed a break... then it was too close to our holiday so no point and I'll get back to it after. Then I had a load of crap go on at work and my mind was elsewhere, then had a pregnancy and miscarriage. Then it was too close to Christmas... yeah you can see the pattern here! Always an excuse!

Anyway, part way through all of this (I think it was after holiday before pregnancy), I brought myself a new running watch. It's NOT a Fitbit one!! It was stupidly expensive, does more then I'll ever understand and I thought it might motivate me a bit!

It's a Garmin Forerunner 735XT
It looks so much smarter than my old Surge for a start! To be fair it should for the price difference. It's some bit of kit! To start I just went on a walk and worse the surge too just to test it out.

This not only shows how different they look but also the difference between the heart rate sensors at that given time! 3bpm in it, that's pretty cool (I was marching round at this point to have a heart rate that high!)! I really liked my Fitbit but just wanted a more watch like looking watch and something that was a bit more hardy. It' looks okay in that picture but the rubber was starting to wear on my fitbit and there is no way of replacing it. At least with the Garmin you can change the straps! The Forerunner 735xt is a Tri-Watch which is fab as I can now use it for swimming too. This means I have sold my Garmin swim and can use this as an all in one, so much better than having to swap which device I am wearing all the time. The wrist based heart rate monitor doesn't work in the pool though, but I also have the band, which I'll take about later!

The only major downside for me really is that although it does count steps, and it is as accurate as the fitbit surge, I don't think it's as accurate as my Fitbit one (which I wear on my waistline) and I can't wear the watch at work. Which means I am still always wearing my Fitbit One which I use for my overall step count then get the rest of the data from the Garmin. It's okay doing it this way but there is no way (unless anyone out there knows it) to sync steps from Fitbit onto the Garmin dashboard. I have tried everything!

Anyway, lets go back to running for now... between them, I think the GPS is pretty accurate also, below is the same run, tracked on each device.

I have shown the data here via the Endomondo app as it't the easiest way to directly compare from two different places. As you can see, there is only .01mi in it in terms of distance, That could be that I cut a corner or something! The main difference between really is the heart rate data. To be fair these two runs were months and months apart (were the only two I could find on the same route) and I was vastly fitter in May then I am now. However I think this is interesting because I also now have the Garmin HRM-Tri band for more detailed heart rate and running data! I know, all the gear and absolutely NO IDEA!! This has given me different data again. Therefore I think the wrist based heart rate data is good at giving you an idea (they are within ballpark of each other) but for specifics, they probably aren't that accurate really.

This is the HRM-Tri. I took a while deciding whether I needed it and then which one to buy as I also wanted to use it swimming. They also make the HRM-Swum and sell them as a bundle. As this ones meant for triathletes, you can swim with it too but they recommend if your doing more pool swimming, to get the Swim band. I think the band is more 'sticky' (or whatever) so that it stays on better when doing turns in the pool. For my this isn't an issue as I wear an all in one swimsuit which keeps it in place, I can imagine for men though then that might be an issue. Realistically I don't swim enough to warrant having two bands! I don't even run enough to warrant this one!

This is the difference between the heart rate data using the band and the wrist. To be honest I think the wrist data had an off day that day as usually its not that low; but then that just proves the point.

This is my swimming heart rate data. I have only used it once and have never had heart rate data swimming before so it's difficult to compare at the moment. I think it't interesting how varied my heart rate is!

I don't think I ever blogged about the accuracy of my Garmin Swim watch however on this first use, like the swim watch, I don't think the 735xt is any more accurate at counting lengths. It thought I swam 21 lengths when I actually did 34. That's pretty awful. To be fair I swam one other time with this watch and is was much more accurate than that (but still not perfect) so I wonder if my swimming style was a bit hap hazard and it didn't really know what I was doing.

Aside from the heart rate and swimming, the band also gives you in-depth information about lots of different running 'things' I'm not sure I understand!

So I guess stride length is pretty self explanatory! How long my stride is when running. Looks like I vary quite a bit at the moment!

Run cadence - the amount of steps I take per minute. Apparently if you have a low cadence, you have a long stride. If you have a shorter stride length and a higher cadence, the quicker you run? I think?

Vertical ratio is the ratio of vertical oscillation to stride length. It is displayed as a percentage and generally the lower the percentage, the better your running form.

I think the ground contact time balance is pretty self explanatory too, how much contact each foot has with the ground. It looks like I am pretty even which I assume is a good thing!

Now I have all this information I should probably learn how to use it! I have only used the band twice, once for swimming, once for running. At the moment I am incredibly unfit so it will be interesting over time to see how the data changes and maybe I can start using it to improve too.. watch this space!

Now onto the Garmin Connect services! I have read that quite a lot of people don't get on with Garmin connect. I can't say that I have an issue with it. Well only that the social side of it is pointless as no-one else I know has a Garmin. This is a bit of a shame really as I have loads of mates with Fitbit's and the social aspect is quite nice; challenging each other to increase step counts etc.

This is what it looks like from the Android App

The sleep monitor in the Garmin isn't as good as the Fitbit. You have to set average sleep times for it to consider you as sleeping. This is fine much of the time and then is as good at detecting sleep, however when I am on night shifts it has no idea I have slept during the day. My Fitbit always just auto knew so I didn't have to change anything but the Garmin doesn't. And often when I've been lazy in the evening it sets me sleeping when I am actually just in front of the telly. As you can see in the picture it says I slept for 10hrs last night. I didn't, it just didn't know when I slept so its put in the max hours I have set the likely sleep time for.. if that makes sense? I can go in and manually add the time I went to bed and woke up and then it will look at the activity overnight and work out the sleep, but it' just not as intuitive.

It shows you your active calories for the day and syncs with My Fitness Pal to show you what you have consumed and have left. Up until today I had My Fitness Pal set saying I was moderately active with negative calorie adjustments set using my step count from Fitbit. I think this was too confusing for it because Garmin took my calorie count and added calories from extra exercise straight to it but wasn't taking calories away if I was still on a low step count. I know that doesn't really explain it very well but basically it was thinking I always had loads more calories then I really did. As of today I have set it to 'sedentary' and taken off calorie adjustment therefore anything extra I do will add up like Garmin wants it too and therefore should be more accurate. I think I was confusing it (and myself) by trying to draw information into My Fitness Pal from two different sources.

This is just a glimpse of some of the data pages for an activity on the Garmin Connect app. I think its perfectly fine!

What else can I say about it? I think I have covered pretty much everything I wanted to. Overall I really rate the Garmin for it's ability to capture exercise data. However I am not quite jacking in my Fitbit love just yet! For the time being, using both (by both I mean the Garmin watch and then my Fitbit One - not the Surge) is doing me just fine. I think the fitness tech world is absolutely saturated with all sorts of devices, apps and companies all competing and as of yet there is not one of them that does everything perfectly.... This could lead on to me also reviewing the kit that the husband is using (Sony Android wear watch with a Wahoo heart rate band) but I'll leave that for another day!

Sorry to bore you all!!

Friday, 4 November 2016

New kitchen!

We have been planning to do the kitchen ever since we moved in, it has taken this long to finally do something about it.

The first thing we did was take out the back door and replace it with patio doors

We also replaced the window but that was like for like so wont bother showing you that! The next step was to start ripping out the old kitchen. I did most of this bit and I found I found it pretty satisfying!

before we moved in

Deconstruction commences!

As you can see from this picture, there was A LOT of wiring, most of which didn't do anything, or was live but not connected! Nightmare! We managed to pull a few favours so a good friend I know from school did the electrics for us. We had the whole kitchen rewired and in hindsight, If we hadn't had many of the other rooms re-plastered and redecorated, we probably would have rewired the whole house.

Yes, I enjoyed breaking up the place!
The electrics was by far the worse bit! It was the messiest and we were on a really tight time frame as Sean was only with us for the weekend before he had to go back to work. After an immense clean up and putting the walls back together, we were finally ready to start putting it back together again!

New oak worktops and sink!! This was a major turning point as we would finally function as a kitchen again! A week without a kitchen was a killer! We were constantly cooking and cleaning up round our neighbours so to finally be able to use our own again was lush! Lucky we have great neighbours really!

The next step was to decide what we were going to do with the walls. Picking a wall colour was easy for the kitchen end as we just found a neutral colour to match the cupboards. We were originally just going to have upstands and paint the walls. However, we didn't really anticipate how much work the walls would need for that. To be honest I always wanted tiles so the decision to revert to tiles was easy for me. Picking them wasn't though! without having a definite picture for the floor too it was difficult to know what to pick, we get there in the end though...

The flooring was particularly tricky too as we wanted it to continue through the hallway to the front of the house, therefore it had to be quite universal. We did think about slate tiles but it wouldn't have worked in the hallway and didn't want a join in the flooring. In the end we went for laminate and it was by far the best decision, I love it!!

I laid the floor with Andy post night shift which was interesting, enjoyed it though. I hated walking on the concrete!!

It's still not finished but it certainly feels like a normal kitchen again. The screen will be mounted on the wall behind where it's currently standing. We haven't finished the dining area behind where I'm stood to take the pictures. We will probably make a feature wall of the back dining area wall by picking out the blue of the tiles. the rest of the walls will be the neutral colour like behind the cupboards.We also need to tidy up around the windows. In the process of laying the floor we had to pull up all the skirting boards in the hallway, at the same time I thought it a good idea to take of the wall paper, upstairs including!

In other words... there will ALWAYS be something to do!

So worth all the hard work though!

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Done a bit of running this year!

Here comes the first of many 'quick updates' as I have been a pretty awful blogger this year... FAR too much been happening!

Last year I decided to join the gym and try and get a bit fitter, since then I have had an up and down relationship with exercise but I have made some small gains. When I first started getting into it one of my goal was to run 5 miles, which at the time seemed completely impossible because I have previously had absolutely nothing good to say about running! However for a while I got quite heavily into spin which I think really helped my cardiovascular fitness as one day after a night shift, I randomly decided to go for a run round the block and before I knew it I ran 7 miles!!


Looking back it is now, even my pace wasn't too awful considering it was my first proper run. This spurred me on to train for bigger things and before I knew it I was signed up for a 10k and a Half Marathon! I soon ran (haha) into problems though, I quickly learnt that if you try and run too far too quickly then all you get is injured! I had to take a week off work because I hurt my foot/ankle and also had on off problems with my knees. My knee was playing up not long before my 10k which was somewhat nerve wracking but with a bit of determination and some good tunes in my ears, I managed it!

10k still seemed a LONG way off a half marathon though, and with it creeping ever closer I was starting to worry as running any further than about 9 miles was proving REALLY difficult.

A torrential run but good fun somehow!

On of my neighbours quite regularly runs longer distances so I asked her to coach me though a run which really helped. She gave me some tips on how to get that little bit further. She managed to get me to go 11 miles which did wonders for me psychologically!

Although I knew I wasn't the best of runners, I really wanted to run my half marathon in less than two hours. The route was a flat one by the sea so at least I didn't have any hills to contend with. 

Official time 1hr 58min 8secs16th Female59th Overall£350 raised for the lovely charity, 4Louis

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Vegetable seedlings

Despite the lack of posts recently, I have been doing some garden prep for the year. I have been a bit on the slow side but still more organised than last year. My first seed of the year went in mid March. They were a bit of a flop as I put them in and then forgot to water them. I had a few odd ones come up but was pretty much a write off. After that I got my act together a bit and started planting up properly.

They have all gone in at slightly different times and some I have re-sowed as the first lot didn't come up but on the list this year is:

  • Peas
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Mini Sweet Corn
  • Peppers
  • Sweet Chili Peppers
  • Climbing Beans
  • Onions
  • Cucumbers
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Parsnips 
  • Carrots
  • Potatoes
  • Lettuce
Blimey!! See it all in a list like that and I have no idea where it's all going to go!! I have been rather ambitious this year. It doesn't look nearly that impressive in the greenhouse yet.

The moldy green one there is one of the ones I neglected but despite all odds, there are about 4 onion seedlings in there. They were last years seeds so that could be a bit of the problem too...

My carrots and parsnips went straight into my planter like last year. Soon after, we had a couple of frosts which killed off the carrots I think. I may have just got impatient but I did give them plenty of time. They were replanted and I am still waiting! I am so impatient! I waited a bit longer for the parsnips and I am glad I did. Almost a month after sowing, they just started to pop through in the last 2 or 3 days! YAY!!! 

As patience has always been an issue for me, this year I have started a little gardening diary to keep track of when I did things, notes on when to expect seedlings to appear and updates on when how my crops are doing!

I wish I had read it before scrapping all my cucumber seeds and starting again. I had two of them come up quite quickly then rot off, so then when no others came up I just gave up, probably too early. I kept them indoors on the window sill and I think they ended up being over watered. I attempted two varieties, Cucumber Passandra, the successful ones I brought as seedlings last year and absolutely loved. However at £4.05 for 5 seeds I'm not that impressed that I failed them! It was 2 of these that came up then died. The second variety was Cucumber Telegraph Improved. None of these even showed so in hindsight, I really wish I had given them longer. 

I found a website online, simply seeds, which had the Passandra seeds at a fraction of the cost so quickly ordered 2 packets. I planted the 1st packet and have saved the second for a few weeks time. I have also got some of the Telegraph seeds coming from eBay so Ill get them going too as soon as! 

I am pretty happy with my Pear tree this year so far anyway. My poor pear tree has had a rough few years. It hated being in a pot and once finally being planted properly, it spent 2015 recovering.

Okay so it doesn't look as wonderful yet but it's the best it's managed in years There is so much new growth and potential. Feeling really hopeful that it might fruit this year!! My apple tree is still recovering but there are some signs of life on it. Time will tell!

Can't wait to bore you with the updates!